How to Protect Your Website from Getting Hacked

hacked[1]Hackers and cybercriminals are a growing threat to your website and your personal computer. You can’t know when they’re coming or what they’re going to do, but you can know for sure they intend to bring you harm. When you’re running your own website, you need to make every effort to ensure your website is secure.

Whether your site is a simple blog or a source of income, nobody wants to see their hard work and effort ruined by a couple of criminals seeking to make a profit. So, I want to share some valuable tips for protecting your website from getting hacked.

Make Sure Your Website Has Not Been Compromised

First, things first, have any of the top 10 antivirus software installed on all your machines, to prevent any initial intrusions that could go past your website. If someone has access to your PC, they could steal a lot of other information, making having good antivirus software a top priority. Then, you need to make sure your website isn’t already hacked. These days hackers are smart and instead of crashing your website they can quietly take it over and for example, a portion of your visitors show their own ads or redirect them to their own websites without you even knowing that. So, you do need to look out for these before you install any protection.

Google Safe Browsing

Google Safe Browsing is a tool released in May of 2008 and remains a powerful tool in the battle against hackers. It searches your website and tells you the current listing status of the site, what Google encountered when visiting it, whether or not the site has acted as an intermediary in the distribution of malware, and whether the site has directly hosted malware within the last 90 days.

Go to https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/

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and where it says “Search by URL” type in the address of your website. This tool will catch around 90% of the problems, but it can still miss some minor hacks of your website.

Sucuri SiteCheck

Another useful tool to check for known malware on your site, website errors, out-of-date-software or if your site has been blacklisted (which often happens after a hack) is the Sucuri SiteCheck scanner.

 

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You type in your url, click the scan website and you will get a full report about malware, spam, blacklisting, etc. You can also check what kind of scripts are running on your site to check if you recognize them all.

Once you have run the tests and made sure there’s no problems with your site, then you can start adding extra layers of security on your site.

However, if the tests did warn you about some problems make sure to take care of them before you proceed, obviously explaining how to do that would be beyond the scope of this post, but if you aren’t tech savvy enough to handle it on your own, then the first place to contact is your hosting provider.

Methods of Protection

Virtual Private Network

A hacker can access your website by attacking the website directly or entering in indirectly through other means. On a public network, a hacker could potentially use a sniffer program to learn your website account information and then proceed to take over your website with it.

Protecting your website means ensuring that you are protected as soon as you log on to the web, wherever you are. For this, best VPN service is needed. A VPN provides an encrypted tunnel for your data, ensuring it cannot be read by anyone else. In other words, the VPN encrypts your connection to the internet so that you remain hidden while using a public network.

For example, when I used ExpressVPN to access the internet, I was able to choose a third-party server from which my data would be transmitted. When I picked New York as my broadcast point and logged onto a website that tracked my geographical coordinates, I was traced as being in Manhattan as I typed in Ohio. Essentially, you become invisible and anonymous. Hackers will only see the encrypted tunnel you’ve created. For this reason, a VPN is a much needed tool for protecting your website and should be used whenever you log on to the internet.

If you’re having trouble finding a good VPN, Secure Thoughts has ranked a number of them, including ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and HideMyAss.

Stay Updated

Any program or application you use on your computer and your website, whether to protect yourself or not, becomes outdated. If you are not continuously updating the software and applications you are using with the new security scripts, patches and plug-ins they release, you may be using an outdated tool that hackers can easily exploit for their benefit. To stay one step ahead of hackers, always stay updated.

Do Your Research

Not all updates and programs are built the same. Some are meant to strengthen security, while others are developed to increase functionality or to add new features. Not all of these things will benefit your site, and some may be nothing more than a hindrance. Tools that are meant to increase functionality, for example, could only decrease productivity or even create new vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.

Do not just download and install something because Google or WordPress says you should. First, read about what you might install and see what others are saying. Does the update actually protect you or just make work harder? Are you adding a vulnerability to your site when you think you’re adding a security plug-in? These are important questions that should always be asked before anything new is downloaded or installed. You should also stay up-to-date on information regarding hacking attempts, what hackers are currently doing as well as general trends and developments within the computing industry. To do this, start reading periodicals such as The Hacker News and PC Magazine.

Using HTTPS

By switching from HTTP to HTTPS, you can increase the overall security of your site using encryption that will help to keep hackers out. It is a standard for many important websites and hackers will often leave websites with HTTPS protection alone. Google Support gives a good overview of how this can be done.

Strong Passwords and Limitations

You should use strong passwords that are not easily hacked for all accounts, especially those that contain sensitive information. Not everyone related to your website should be able to see all of the information you have available. In fact, that could be possibly harmful or even illegal depending on the circumstance.

Strong passwords should include a minimum of 12 letters, avoid words from the dictionary and include a mixture of upper and lower case characters, numbers and symbols. A great example would be “PY0rat!ny965x” But even if your password is strong, you should also change it regularly to prevent it from being discovered. The longer you keep it the same, the greater the chance of it being discovered by a hacker.

Conclusion

By ensuring that you first have not been hacked before creating a defensive network against hackers, you will be better able to protect yourself. After you know your site is safe, Sucuri SiteCheck’s resources may be useful. Following this, the above tips will help greatly in laying a groundwork for the defense of your website.

The key to protecting your website, however, is being proactive. Always do whatever you can to keep your website safe and find new tools whenever you can. Adding new layers of security and looking for new ways to add protections is one of the best investments you can make with your time. After all, if you can run Google Safe Browser or Sucuri SiteCheck, so can visitors to your site. And if these or other resources show that a hacker has placed malware on your site, then you could very well lose important traffic and, thereby, money.

Website security is an expansive subject and new tools are constantly being invented. What do you do to protect your website from hackers? Feel free to comment below and let us know!

Author Bio: Caroline is a blogger who writes about technology, online privacy, security and blogging. She writes for www.securethoughts.com, a great resource for finding out more about how you can protect yourself and your data when online.

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